Last Updated on Wednesday, 24 January 2018, 17:43 by Denis Chabrol
Guyana’s growth rate for 2017 will be further revised downwards due to a more than 45,000 ounce shortfall in gold declarations, but Finance Minister Winston Jordan is confident that the country’s production of the yellow metal would climb again this year due to good prices and improved access to gold bearing areas of the interior.
“With both sugar and gold not coming in on target, it means that we will have to revise last year’s growth rate even further and that would put some strain on even the growth for 2018,” he said.
He did not provide a new growth figure for 2017.
Originally, government had projected that Guyana’s economy would have grown by 2.9 percent in 2017.
Last year, Guyana had hoped to produce 152,000 tons of sugar but the financially paralysed state-owned Guyana Sugar Corporation’s output fell by 15.2 percent.
With the Guyana Gold Board reporting that gold declaration for last year ended at 46,246 ounces less than the target of 700,000 ounces, he said one of the major reasons was due to inaccessibility of several mining areas.
He hopes that there will be a turnaround of the gold fortunes this year because GY$1 billion have been allocated to rehabilitate roads and trails to forestry and mining areas to allow miners to take advantage of good world prices for gold.
“Prices are still good so it’s not a case they don’t have a natural incentive to produce more so…first of all we believe it’s going to be far better this year. This, we hope, is just an aberration because with prices where they are you ought to be seeing much more declaration,” said Jordan, an economist by profession and former Budget Director at the Finance Ministry.
Government hopes that 712,706 ounces of gold will be declared in 2018.
The London Fix closed Wednesday at US$1,353.70 per ounce. For most of 2017, world gold prices have been more than US$1,200 per ounce.
He reasoned that efforts would have to be made to find more gold deposits for medium and large scale gold operations, instead of merely at the small scale.
Meanwhile, General Manager of the Guyana Gold Board, Eondrene Thompson has been quoted by government’s
Department of Public Information as saying that poor roads and bad weather contributed to a reduction in declarations. “The roadways into the interior…were bad and as such persons were unable to buy their supplies to take into the interior. A lot of operators said they parked their dredges and were waiting on the roads to be done,” she said.
Meanwhile, the Gold Board would be also be engaging the mining community with the aim of improving declarations in 2018. “We will embark on PR work, let the miners know the importance of selling their gold to the Guyana Gold Board,” Thompson said.
Thompson said the awareness campaign is to encourage persons to sell their gold to licenced agents or the Gold Board itself. “We have persons around who they sell to or who they are working for and still not declaring to the Guyana Gold Board so we intend to educate the miners and let them know it is good, it is right to sell to the Guyana Gold Board.”
The Gold Board is examining providing incentives to miners who sell to the Guyana Gold Board. Additionally, the Board will also be educating miners on the importance of having the necessary documentation when selling their gold.
Thompson explained, “Our regulatory overseas body would like to know that. They would want to monitor the gold from the mine to the market so we will have persons educating the miners and showing them the advantages of producing documentation where they mine”.
Starting next week, the Gold Board will be sending out text blasts as part of its public relations strategy to educate miners on these issues. Staff stationed in the interior will also facilitate awareness outreaches.